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Ten fun facts about Lise Meitner


1. Nobel Prize oversight criticized as Lise Meitner is overlooked

Lise Meitner was a pioneering physicist who made a significant contribution to the discovery of nuclear fission, yet she was overlooked by the Nobel committee. Despite her crucial role in the breakthrough, her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery. This oversight has been widely criticized, as Meitner's work was essential to the breakthrough and her exclusion from the Nobel Prize was unjust.

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2. The 109th Element Named After Her

The remarkable scientist Lise Meitner has been immortalized in the periodic table of elements with the naming of meitnerium, a radioactive synthetic element. This element, which is the 109th element on the periodic table, was named in her honor in 1997 in recognition of her pioneering work in nuclear physics. Meitnerium is a highly unstable element, with a half-life of only a few milliseconds.

AlsoGerman Chemist Otto Hahn Receives Nobel Prize in Chemistry

3. Lise Meitner, Pioneering Physicist, Dies at 68

In 1964, Lise Meitner suffered a devastating heart attack that weakened her condition and prevented her from travelling to the United States to receive the prestigious Enrico Fermi Prize. This was a great loss for the scientific community, as Meitner was a pioneering physicist who had made significant contributions to the field of nuclear physics. Her work was instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb, and she was the first woman to be appointed to a full professorship in physics in Germany. Despite her weakened condition, Meitner continued to work and publish papers until her death in 1968.

AlsoNobel Prize-Winning Physicist James Chadwick Dies at 87

4. Nurse, Scientist, and War Hero

During World War 1, Lise Meitner served as a nurse, using her expertise in x-ray equipment to help treat injured soldiers. However, in 1916 she decided to leave the war effort and return to her research, determined to make a lasting impact on the scientific world. Her dedication to her work paid off, and she went on to become one of the most influential female scientists of the 20th century.

AlsoEnrico Fermi: A Physicist Who Changed the World

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5. Scientist Protected by Her Citizenship

When Adolf Hitler rose to power in 1933, Lise Meitner was fortunate to be protected by her Austrian citizenship, allowing her to remain in her position as director of the Institute for Chemistry. This was a remarkable feat, considering the Nazi regime's oppressive policies towards Jewish people and other minorities. Despite the hostile environment, Meitner was able to continue her work and make significant contributions to the field of nuclear physics.

AlsoItalian Physicist Enrico Fermi Receives Nobel Prize in Physics

6. The Second Woman to Earn a Doctorate in Physics

In 1905, Lise Meitner became the second woman to receive a doctoral degree in physics from the University of Vienna. This remarkable achievement was a testament to her dedication and hard work, as she was one of the first women to attend the university and had to overcome numerous obstacles to pursue her studies. Her success paved the way for other women to pursue higher education in physics and other scientific fields.

AlsoNobel Prize-Winning Physicist Maria Goeppert-Mayer Dies at 85

7. Celebrating Pioneer of Nuclear Fission

Albert Einstein famously referred to Lise Meitner as the "German Marie Curie" in recognition of her pioneering work in the discovery of nuclear fission. Meitner, a physicist from Austria, was the first to recognize the enormous potential of the process, which she described as "the most important scientific discovery of the 20th century". Her work, alongside that of her colleague Otto Hahn, was instrumental in unlocking the secrets of the atom and ushering in the atomic age.

AlsoRutherfordium: The Element Named After a Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist

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8. First Woman in Germany to Become a Full Professor of Physics

In 1926, Lise Meitner made history as the first woman in Germany to become a full professor of physics at the University of Berlin. This groundbreaking achievement was a major milestone in the fight for gender equality in the sciences, and it opened the door for countless other women to pursue their dreams of a career in physics. Meitner's success was a testament to her hard work and dedication, and it paved the way for future generations of female scientists.

AlsoEinstein's Nobel Prize: A Legacy of Innovation

9. Woman of the Year

In 1946, Lise Meitner was awarded the prestigious title of "Woman of the Year" by the National Press Club, an honor that was celebrated with a dinner attended by President Truman. This was a remarkable achievement for Meitner, who had already made a name for herself as a pioneering physicist and chemist, and was the first woman to be awarded the title. The dinner was a fitting tribute to her accomplishments, and a testament to her hard work and dedication to her field.

AlsoThe Legacy of Hans Bethe

10. Lise Meitner honored with Swedish citizenship

In 1945, Lise Meitner was honored with the distinction of becoming a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. However, after she became a Swedish citizen in 1949, her status was changed to reflect her new nationality. This recognition of her accomplishments was a testament to her immense contributions to the scientific community, and her legacy continues to be celebrated today.

AlsoWolfgang Ernst Pauli: Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist

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Short about Lise Meitner
An Austrian physicist who worked on nuclear physics.

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